NEW YORK -- Dustin Pedroia's decision to play the final two games of a lost season with a broken left finger highlighted the infielder's willingness to play hurt.
But unwittingly, it also focused the spotlight on Jacoby Ellsbury who missed six games last week with an injury that he wouldn't disclose, and again, was out of the lineup Monday in the series opener, though seemingly healthy.
"Jacoby's situation was different," said manager Bobby Valentine. "CC (Sabathia) was pitching and I saw him face (another lefty, Baltimore's Joe) Saunders a couple of nights before with his breaking ball and I thought it was a situation where a righthander might be able to do better."
Valentine played Che-Hsuan Lin in Ellsbury's place.
"Lin got half (2) of our hits," said Valentine, "so maybe that hunch was right. I thought I was playing the team that gave us a good chance to win. It's a big center field. Lin's a very good defensive player. Ells really hasn't hit that well against lefthanders. And Lin got two hits last night and the first time up, he really walked, but they called him out on a high 3-and-2 curveball, so he really would have been on base three times."
When Pedroia was asked about the contrast of Ellsbury sitting out Monday and the second baseman's decision to play hurt Tuesday, Pedroia defended his teammate.
"He's been beat up, man," said Pedroia. "He's had his share of injuries this year. This year's been tough on a lot of guys. He doesn't have to answer anything like that. Don't go there. He's fine."
The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.